The first ever international forum on digital economy has just ended in La Republique Du Cameroun under the patronage of the country’s absentee president Paul Biya. The event which took place in the nation’s capital Yaoundé from the 15th to the 17th of May, brought together local and international experts and entrepreneurs in the domain of information and communication technologies( ICTs), who all exposed their know how and innovations to the general public. The three days event placed under the theme; How to achieve successful digital economy, also had rich workshops, B2B meetings, brainstorming sessions, visitation of stands amongst many other activities.
Digital economy implies the use of ICTs tools including the internet to develop meaningful sectors such as agriculture, mining, oil and gas, start-up businesses, services of high economic values especially in finance, insurance, industrialization, just to name a few.
Experts have made known to Cameroon that if these sectors are digitalized, the economy will leapfrog and hence, great economic boom. For instance, there is going to be a relative fall in the level of unemployment, heavy dependent on public service reduced, businesses will flourish and Cameroon ‘s dying need for emergence by 2035 can be hoped.
But the huge money pumped in to organize this forum, might turn to be a waste because from past experience, Mr. Biya’s government has always fail to implement recommendations from such high level meetings. The government is characterised by inertia, a lot of administrative bottle necks, no follow up spirit.
Most young entrepreneurs complain of high taxes, lack of access to credit from banks. The country still operates with an archaic land law which does not give land ownership to persons born after 1974. Thus frustrating young people who want to engage in agriculture. More to that, the legal framework for business is still lacking in many aspects, no clear cut policy to encourage the private sector. Statistics have revealed that only two percent of start-ups succeed in Cameroon, only five million people use internet in Cameroon as against seven million in Senegal. In addition, the ratio of students per computer in Cameroon is forty students per computer meanwhile countries like Uganda, Kenya and others are at four students per computer.
Above all, the poor internet connection and limited coverage nationwide are some of the burning issues to be handled if Cameroon must witnessed digital economic explosion.
It should be recalled that Mr Biya and his purposeless government had organised an international economic forum in 2016 which brought together many business tycoons and world class economist to explore all available investment opportunities in Cameroon so as to attract investors. Shockingly, most of the recommendations that where made, are still in drawers of various ministries with the purported objectives of the forum buried.